Send to

Choose Destination
Res Dev Disabil. 2016 Apr-May;51-52:60-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2015.12.010. Epub 2016 Jan 22.

Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programmes for anxiety or depression in adults with intellectual disabilities: A review of the literature.

Author information

School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. Electronic address:
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
North East London NHS Foundation Trust, Good Mayes Hospital, Barley Lane, London, UK.


Relatively little is known about the application of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to people with intellectual disabilities (ID). This review sought to synthesise available evidence on the effectiveness of CBT for anxiety or depression to assess the current level of evidence and make recommendations for future research. A comprehensive systematic literature search was conducted to identify qualitative and quantitative studies. Robust criteria were applied to select papers that were relevant to the review. Included papers were subject to quality appraisal. Eleven out of the 223 studies considered met our inclusion criteria and were included in the review in which CBT was used with participants with ID and anxiety (n=3), depression (n=4) or a mixed clinical presentation (n=4). There remains a paucity of evidence of effectiveness, however, the studies indicate that CBT is feasible and well-tolerated and may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression among adults with mild ID. Qualitative data reflect a positive perception of CBT amongst clients and carers. Further research is required to investigate the components of CBT, suitability for CBT, and requisite skills for CBT, which uses valid, sensitive and more holistic outcome measures.


Anxiety; CBT; Depression; Intellectual and developmental disabilities; Intellectual disabilities; Psychotherapy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center